View Full Version : OPINION: Comparing Physical Education Index With Sports Discus

David P. Dillard
01-25-2003, 10:14 PM
A request was made on a medically related sports discussion group by a
allied health professional person for a comparison of Physical Education
Index with SportsDiscus, a database available from several databanks or
database providers. I thought the comments that I made in response might
be of interest to members of this discussion group and perhaps generate
additional comments from those on this list. While Physical Education
Index is available as a database, I have access to the print product and
my comments are based on the print version. SportsDiscus, as far as I
know, is not available in a print version. The request was made because
of the potential need to choose between them by the academic library that
services the requester's institution of higher education. For the reasons
cited below, however, I think that a subscription to the print version of
Physical Education Index would be a valuable choice with or without the
subscription to the online version of Physical Education Index. Also,
abstracted sources more than indexes make better online databases as the
shallow records that have just a title and a few subject headings make for
less retrievable records in complex multifaceted online search strategies.

Subject: Comparing Physical Education Index With Sports Discus

This will be a very difficult choice because both sources have significant
content of substantial value. Both cover a large body of sources that
includes a sizable group of journals and other forms of publication beyond

One factor is in a database like SportsDiscus one can combine a number of
concepts in a search and find those sources that are doing a combination
of topical concepts in the same source. The print index requires scanning
sources under one topic heading at a time. Hence the database will enable
more focused searching for sources and permit a more rapid search to
enable this result as one does not need to look at all the citations under
each facit of their topic.

On the other hand, Physical Education Index has an excellent group of
topical sections that permit scanning these broad categories year by year
to see what is being published in areas like dance or in coaching and
training or in officiating or in motor learning. This allows more rapid
surveying of the field as one is not forced to bring up one record after
another on a computer to get an annual picture of what is out there on a
specific topic or subject category. The print index is ideal, for example,
for a student or researcher who is in the process of selecting a topic as
they can rapidly scan article titles under a selected subject heading to
get ideas for a subject to write about.

The Physical Education Index also has an excellent detailed subject index
that contains a very good list of subject headings. The Sports Discus may
have a weaker descriptor list, but if so, nevertheless, searching for
words and phrases is enabled, because it is a database (that includes
abstracts for at least some of the citations included in the database) in
the document titles and abstracts as well as in the subject heading field
to enhance the ability to find relevant sources on a topic. Hence in
SportsDiscus, the subject headings are augmented by the words and phrases
found in titles and abstracts which are searchable fields.

The bottom line is that each can be very useful in different ways.
Selecting one over the other handicaps the research that is being done in
the pertinent fields of study. ERIC, Education Abstracts, Academic Source
Premier, Medline, CINAHL, Academic Index, Social Science Abstracts,
PsychInfo and General Science Abstracts are among other databases that
will provide important resources in the subject areas most covered by
SportsDiscus and Physical Education Index.

Quiz question: How did this database come to be named Sports Discus? My
answer is circumstantial rather than official.

David Dillard
Temple University
(215) 204 - 4584

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